Matey Mateev (1940-2010)

Matey Mateev and his wife Rumiana died in a car accident on 25 July. Mateev, who was born in 1940, was a major figure in Bulgarian physics and had very close ties with CERN. The Mateevs had two children –Dragomir and Iliana- and a granddaughter, born three days before they died.


The academic activities of Mateev -Mag, to his many friends- were centred around the St. Clement of Ohrid University of Sofia, from which he graduated in 1963, to become professor in 1984 and subsequently Head of Theoretical Physics, Dean of Physics and Vice-Rector. From 1980 onwards, without interruption, Mag led one of the University's most well-attended courses and was the students' favourite teacher. Mateev and the late Alexander (Sande) Donkov -another central figure at the University- wrote a book together on quantum mechanics, like so many physicists eventually do.

Mag’s research ventured into high-temperature superconductivity, the growth of crystals in a micro-gravity environment and the relativistic bound-state problem. But his most lasting and passionate endeavours centred around a new version of quantum field theory based on the hypothesis of the existence of an upper limit for elementary particle masses. This approach was systematically developed by Mag, his inseparable friend Volodya (Vladimir Kadyshevsky, former director of CERN’s sister laboratory in Dubna) and their co-authors.

Mateev was a key figure in Bulgaria’s scientific policy. He was named Minister of Education in 1991 and developed the «National Education Act », adopted by the National Assembly that very year. He championed the establishment of the National Foundation for Fundamental Research and was elected to the Bulgarian Academy of
Sciences in 2003. In 2009 he received the « Cyril and Methodius» medal, a very high Bulgarian distinction. None of these honours changed Mag’s modest and friendly ways.

Mag was the key promoter of Bulgaria’s membership of CERN, and his country’s representative to the CERN Council from 1999 to 2000. Bulgaria’s active participation in CERN was among Mateev’s greatest services to science. But what Mag truly appreciated at CERN were his frequent visits to the Theory Group. There, and literally for hundreds of miles around, Rumiana and Mag were able to enjoy the company of their innumerable « local » friends. We shall deeply miss them.

Mag and Rumiana’s friends and colleagues